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MBA Careers: Peer Networks Help Future Leaders Prosper At General Electric

Leadership track candidates benefit from diverse cohort, personal coaching and array of business units at the industrial champion.

Thu Jun 11 2015

Christopher Hermanas and Delroy Hector are the future commercial leaders of General Electric — America’s best-known conglomerate, renowned for its industrial operations which make everything from jet engines to X-ray machines. GE hires MBAs for roles in its diverse business units including for healthcare, energy and aerospace.

Candidates of GE’s Experienced Commercial Leadership Program, the pair are on a path to potential senior management roles at the company that traces its beginnings to the inventor Thomas Edison.

They recently returned from the Global Commercial Leadership Conference in Shanghai. This gives ECLPs the chance to hear from inspirational business leaders, receive personalized coaching from executive sponsors and learn from peers.

“I see this networking and solution building as a great opportunity that GE and the ECLP provides,” says Delroy. He adds that it allows ECLPs from all over the world to come together to look at how to alleviate customer challenges. “My success as a commercial leader is 100% determined by our customers.”

For Chris the climax was the class-specific training, which included change-acceleration, advanced presentation skills and data analytics. “All of the training we are receiving is helping us to grow exponentially as future leaders,” he says.

Chris joined GE in July 2014 and obtained an MBA at the McCombs School of Business in Texas the same year. “The MBA has been extremely beneficial,” says Chris, a former national marketing manager at professional services firm Deloitte.

An in-depth view of a variety of marketing, finance, and operational disciplines has allowed him to spark new ideas at the industrial champion and drive value.

The ECLP provides a rotational experience that highlights the diversity that differentiates GE from other companies and helps accelerate learning. An MBA has been imperative to Chris’ success on his 8-month rotations, he says. “Translating theories and concepts into actual results is an important step — needed to be successful as an ECLP.”

Currently working in Chicago within GE Capital, the group’s financial services arm, Chris believes GE Capital has been able to benefit from and leverage links to GE’s other units. “GE Capital has a very good understanding of the challenges our industrial businesses have across various industries, which allows us to be a more effective partner,” he says.

An MBA, which covers myriad sectors and functions, comes into play here. “As ECLPs we are constantly using a variety of functional skills — from critical thinking and problem solving to communication and presentation skills — to effectively drive value,” Chris says.

He singles out a project to deliver a brand benchmarking tool for GE Ventures, a GE unit which helps entrepreneurs and start-ups accelerate their ideas, as a highlight: “It involved a lot of collaboration and teamwork with other ECLPs, and provided an exciting immersion into the trademark, licensing, and partnership side of the GE business.”

GE recruits around 80 candidates for its ECLP each year. Some have MBA degrees; some come from other backgrounds.

Delroy is in the latter group. Shortly after joining GE he took an MSc in water and environmental management, among other subjects, at the UK’s University of Hertfordshire. “Water issues are global challenges for all of us to solve,” says Delroy, who is currently working at GE Power & Water in Europe as a sales and marketing associate.

“The degree does offer elements that a business school cannot offer,” he says of the MSc. This includes a focus on both local and global water management issues — themes riding up the corporate agenda as companies face water-related challenges, according to a study by Vox Global, a communications firm, and environmental research group the Pacific Institute.

He believes that the ability to alleviate or provide a solution towards solving water scarcity concerns will define companies and governments in the future. “This is why I work for GE Water — to help in the better management of this strategic resource,” says Delroy, who previously worked at GE Capital in the UK as a credit risk assurance manager.

Prior to GE Capital Delroy worked as an environmental inspector for the government of Trinidad and Tobago, the southern Caribbean nation. “The work values are very much focused on completing the task as quickly as possible to allow free time for more relaxing and personal activities,” he says of working there.

These experiences are a fit with the rich range of career options at GE. Delroy has also had exposure to GE Aviation, he adds. “One of the things I really like about GE is the diversity of career paths available.”

This is a sentiment echoed by Chris at GE Capital. “Collaborating with our industrials and taking a fast approach to new product offerings has allowed us to be more flexible and successful,” Chris says.